New DSLR Camera / Car Auxiliary Power Switcher Update

Posted by under Electronics, Photography, on 12 January 2016 @ 9:33pm.

After having my Nikon D3100 for a couple of years now and getting plenty of use out of it, I thought it was time to update to a newer camera. I mainly wanted one which would do better in low light conditions and had a higher resolution sensor. Other features would be a bonus. In the end I settled with the Nikon D5300. It looks pretty much the same as the D3100 but with a few additional features…

– 24MP sensor vs 14MP on the D3100
– Higher ISO settings available
– 1080p 60fps video capability
– Stereo sound recording
– A pop-out screen which can rotate 360° on one axis
– GPS location and Wifi (for a smartphone app)

It is also compatible with my existing accessories such as batteries and lenses which is great, as it means I don’t have to find replacements for those too which could have got very expensive. That means my existing 55-300mm lense works on it too.

I haven’t had time to do a lot of testing with it but that will come on my next trip to a race track no doubt! Watch this space…


In other news, my Car Auxiliary Power Switcher has been working flawlessly since I rewrote the software on it. It’s been running continuously (bar the few times the power cable got knocked) without crashing, and without false positive turning on and off of the output. Perfect!

I do notice every day when I get in the car though that the LED is flashing red which means that my battery voltage is under 12.4v. The battery isn’t old and isn’t neglected so I wonder if modern cars have a somewhat higher parasitic draw than older cars or systems stay active longer when the engine is turned off. My old car certainly never had it drop below 12.6v (usually stayed higher). I did double check the drain on the power switcher and it was 2mA, not enough to draw it down overnight (or in a week even). No bulbs have been left on either. Oh well, the engine starts just fine every day so I’m not too worried about it.

Next project is another solar charge controller I think, with an upgraded rating and possibly input and output current monitoring. Again, watch this space!



Silverstone and Photography

Posted by under Photography, on 29 April 2013 @ 11:46pm.

A few weeks ago I attended the Silverstone 6 hour WEC (World Endurance Championship). I was sort of forced into it by my friend Ben, but in the end I actually really enjoyed it. Apart from it being an opportunity to go camping and hang out with friends, it also gave me the opportunity to do some photography too.

I’m still a newbie when it comes to photography, I will admit this freely. I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated a good photograph but it’s always hard to produce the same quality of photo yourself. This proved virtually impossible until I got myself a DSLR camera (Nikon D3100 entry level DSLR).

Even when I first got the camera 6 months ago, just as a point and shoot camera the quality difference is amazing. The images come out very crisp and very vibrant in comparison so a point and shoot camera. I had seen pictures that came from the iPhone before and they were impressive, but once I saw DSLR images there was no way I could ever go back to a point and shoot. That said, I do use my iPhone on regular basis for quick snaps where quality isn’t needed.

Around the track I saw all the more experienced photographers and even the pros using huge telephoto lenses, likely 300mm or more. I knew that’s what I need to get hold of, but there is no way I could have done it that weekend. I made do with what I had anyway and managed to get a couple of really good shots.


Anyway, back to Silverstone. I have never been to one of these events so it was completely new to me. I just sort of went all sheepish and followed everyone else (most had been before). Photo opportunities were quite frequent and I took them all, even if the outcome was disappointing. On the first day my first couple of photos impressed me, but as the day went on I realised that they weren’t what I wanted them to be. The biggest problem I had was lack of zoom on the camera lens. I was using the stock lens which although had zoom, was only to 55mm (quite pitiful for this event).

This trip, aside from the cold, wind, rain, sun burn (yep, even through the cloud and rain!), inability to sleep and the hugely expensive price on everything at the track, it was a fantastic weekend and something I will definitely do again.

On the whole, I took over 600 photos. Some were OK, some weren’t, but I did take them all in RAW format so I can process them better later if I want to.


Realising that I needed a better lens I was randomly looking at them with my friend John. He has the same camera (I bought one after I tried his out) so we were looking at lenses for each other too. He found a nice 300mm lens for a respectable ~£180, so he bought one on the good reviews it was given. A week later I tried his out and couldn’t resist getting one myself. I’m yet to try it out properly as there have been no events to get out to use it, but I will soon as I will need the practice!

My next major planned event is actually camping in a couple of months but I hope I get chance to try it out before then. Ben keeps trying to persuade me to go to Le Mans 24 hours but I have no passport and I won’t get one in time for the event. I said I’d consider it next year!

Until then, I have plenty of time for practice and time to gain experience. No doubt I will need it to get that perfect shot. There is still a lot I need to learn despite doing photography at college. A lot of that knowledge has drained away when I’ve not used it. I do have friends to help me out and they’ve done a great job so far. You know who you are!